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The Benefits of Ball Chairs for ADHD

written by: Sharon Dominica • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 4/29/2011

Find out more about Ball chairs for ADHD -- what they are, why they’re used, and how to choose one for your child.

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    Ball Chairs are modified therapy balls or Swiss balls, which are used for seating purposes. Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) seek the sensation of movement, and this is often the reason why they are restless and fidgety. Initially, therapists found that children with ADHD were calm when seated on a therapy ball. However, balls roll away and can be difficult to manage in a classroom, and that’s when ball chairs came into being. Ball chairs offer the benefits of being seated on a ball, and at the same time provide support and safety. This article focuses on the various benefits of being seated on a ball or a ball chair. It also describes the various types of ball chairs available in the market today, as well as tips on choosing a ball chair.

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    Benefits of Ball Chairs for ADHD:

    Children with ADHD learn and behave better when they are seated on ball chairs. A study by Schilling and team, published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy in 2003, found that classroom behavior and learning increased when children with ADHD were seated on balls instead of chairs. Children were able to focus on what the teacher was saying while they were sitting on balls. They were able to concentrate on activities for up to 45 minutes. Children were able to produce better written work than when they were seated on a chair. Children who were usually restless, and used to interrupt the teacher or disturb the rest of the class, were able to sit on their ball chair and work quietly. Being seated on a ball also helped improve posture. Handwriting was another aspect that showed improvement. Dangerous behaviors, like tipping the chair on its back legs, stopped when children were seated on balls. Thus, this study provides evidence that children with ADHD learn better when seated on ball chairs.

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    Types of Ball Chairs for ADHD:

    Rolling Ball Chairs: These ball chairs have legs with wheels, and thus provide a lot of movement or vestibular sensation. They will be beneficial for children who can control the rolling movement and know how to be safe.

    Ball Chairs with Feet: These ball chairs for ideal for younger children, or children prone to accidents. These chairs are quite stable and areideal for a classroom.

    Ball Chairs with Back Support: These ball chairs are good for long periods of sitting as they provide back support and allow the child to rest whenever they need.

    Egg Shaped Ball Chair: These chairs are ideal for older children or adults. An older child may benefit from using this chair while studying at home.

    Exercise Balls with Weighted Bottom: These chairs are just exercise balls with weighted bottoms. They do not have any additional supporting structures. They can be used very easily for therapy. However they require more control and balance, and can be difficult to manage in a classroom setup.

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    Choosing a Ball Chair

    Here are some tips to keep in mind while choosing a ball chair:

    - Make sure the child’s feet reach the floor, and the child is able to control his movement while sitting on it.

    - Make sure that the child can sit up and stand from it easily.

    - If the child is not able to maintain good posture while sitting on a ball chair without a backrest, he may benefit from one with a backrest.

    - Consider a height adjustable ball chair for a growing child.

    - Make sure you try out the ball chair with the child before you decide on buying it.

    - Consider the child’s opinion on which chair they like best, as their comfort is very important.

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    References:

    Denise Lynn Schilling, K. W. (2003). Classroom seating for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Therapy balls versus chairs. American Journal of Occupational Therapy , 534- 541.

    Sensory Processing Disorder. (n.d.). An Exercise Ball Chair:The Perfect Dynamic Seating Solution With Outrageous Comfort! Retrieved from Sensory Processing Disorder: http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/exercise-ball-chair.html